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NATO DIANA innovation accelerator announces new critical challenges requiring technological solutions

4. July 2024 - 10:50
NATO Diana Estonia team
NATO Diana Estonia team

NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator or DIANA has unveiled the challenges it will be addressing in its second year of operations and has opened a new round of applications. DIANA aims to find and accelerate the development of dual-use deep technologies across the alliance to respond to critical defence and security issues.

“DIANA boasts very strong business mentors and a very strong network, which has made it an important catalyst for innovation and garnered it incredibly positive feedback from participants after its pilot year,” explained Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur. “The programme is useful for the development of Estonia’s national defence and for the competitiveness of our companies, as it creates a bridge between ideas and potential military applications, speeding up an otherwise long and obstacle-filled journey. I encourage entrepreneurs to take a closer look at the opportunities and issues the new round includes.”

NATO Member States have identified critical challenges for which innovative technological solutions are sought. The accelerator is open to start-ups from across the alliance which are developing technologies that have applications in the civil and defence sectors alike.

“New deep technologies are the very point where innovation and security meet, and their development is on the rise in Estonia and worldwide,” said Minister of Economic Affairs and Information Technology Tiit Riisalo. “I urge start-ups to get involved in DIANA, since it opens a door to new opportunities. The solutions that emerge from entrepreneurs’ new ideas will boost economic growth, and the potential of those solutions in both the civil and defence fields will contribute to security and innovation in society as a whole.”

The companies admitted to the programme will receive €100,000 in funding, with the best potentially being granted up to €300,000 more. They will also gain access to more than 180 test centres, a programme linking the defence and business sectors and a network of leading mentors across the alliance. DIANA provides support and contacts to help companies in the civil sector enter the defence market, which is usually closed off and with high barriers to entry.

This year, the programme is seeking innovative deep technologies from member states that offer solutions in five areas: energy and power; data and information security; sensing and surveillance; human health and performance; and critical infrastructure and logistics. The overarching themes of the challenges will focus on space, resilience and sustainability technologies.

“DIANA presents companies with an unprecedented opportunity to quickly recognise the needs of the defence sector, and gives them access to more than 150 of the world’s leading test centres, as well as to defence forces and major defence industry companies,” said Kadri Tammai, the head of the DIANA Estonia Accelerator at Tehnopol and future Regional Director of DIANA. “The companies that took part in the first accelerator programme have already made a big leap in technology development, gained influential new customers and raised investments.”

More than 1300 companies applied to join the programme last year. One of the successful applicants was the Tartu-based Estonian start-up GaltTec. The company manufactures fuel cells and fuel cell materials which are based on patented technologies and which are exceptionally small and powerful compared to other technologies on the market. GaltTec CEO Glen Kelp says DIANA has been a real springboard for the company’s business. “The programme packs so much in and has been pure gold for a start-up like ours,” he remarked. “It is a fast track to understanding the specifics of the defence industry. The contacts we have made by taking part have already had a positive impact on our business.”

To apply for a place on the programme, companies must submit a five-page application form outlining their technological solution and its relevance to the challenge in question. Applications are open until early August, with the six-month programme starting in January 2025. All dual-use deep technology companies registered in NATO member countries are welcome to apply. For more information and to apply, go to

The NATO DIANA Estonia Accelerator is run by Tehnopol Startup Incubator in cooperation with Sparkup Tartu Science Park and Startup Wise Guys. The implementation of the accelerator in Estonia is funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the City of Tallinn. Contributing in Estonia to the alliance’s network of testing centres are TalTech, the University of Tartu, CR14, the Estonian Military Academy, the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, the Estonian Aviation Academy and Metrosert.

  • Media contact: Karen-Maria Toomiste (Community and Communications Manager for the NATO DIANA Estonian Accelerator), [email protected], +372 524 4464